Revealed: Monaco pace data shows how McLaren were actually quicker than Ferrari

Pablo Hidalgo
McLaren's Oscar Piastri and Ferrari's Charles Leclerc at the 2024 Monaco Grand Prix.

McLaren's Oscar Piastri and Ferrari's Charles Leclerc.

Charles Leclerc has lived up to expectations to take pole position in Monaco. The Ferrari driver scored his third P1 in qualifying in Monte Carlo and held off surprise attacks from McLaren and Max Verstappen to secure his first pole since Las Vegas 2023.

Ferrari was the team to beat all weekend. Only Red Bull with Max Verstappen and Mercedes in the hands of Lewis Hamilton seemed a serious threat to the Italians until qualifying. But the Maranello team had an unwanted guest in the fight for pole.

That guest was Oscar Piastri with the McLaren who joined the battle in a real way at the last minute and almost put the Monegasque in trouble. In fact, the ideal qualifying lap was that of the Australian who had…. more than two tenths of a second to squeeze out and take the pole position!

Despite this, Leclerc secured another pole in Monaco after two great laps in Q3. The Ferrari driver was the favourite after a very solid Friday and Saturday morning and finished the job with a great final push to avoid the surprise of Oscar Piastri and McLaren.

The MCL38 was quicker than the SF24 overall, but the Ferrari’s mechanical grip and traction were superior. We can see this for example just at the entrance of the tunnel and in the slowest part of the circuit. The McLaren reaches higher speeds in the slow corner, but then loses time on corner exit, unlike the Ferrari.

In addition, Leclerc’s less aggressive driving style, also favoured by the great stability of the Ferrari, has allowed the Monegasque to take the pole. The Ferrari driver was only quickest in Sector 3, but completed a very complete and solid lap with no mistakes to be the fastest overall. Oscar Piastri had to risk more in the final corners to try to put the time delta in his favour.

Once again, McLaren was the fastest team in qualifying, but failed to achieve the perfect lap in Q3. Lando Norris also had a better ideal lap than Carlos Sainz. McLaren could have been P1 and P3, but will have to settle for P2 and P4.

Even so, Leclerc’s pole is tremendously deserved as the Ferrari driver has done a very complete lap to compensate for the losses in Sector 1 with Mercedes and Sector 2 with McLaren.

More Monaco GP qualifying reaction

👉 Lewis Hamilton points to George Russell’s upgraded front wing for latest qualifying defeat

👉 Christian Horner makes grim Monaco GP prediction for Max Verstappen after surprise grid slot

Red Bull succumbs to McLaren and Ferrari improvements

Max Verstappen could only manage P6 after missing his final Q3 attempt by taking too many risks and hitting the wall at the exit of Turn 1.

The Dutchman, who had secured P3 at +0.149s off Leclerc with a great Sector 1 on his first try, didn’t have a final lap to fight for pole and Carlos Sainz, Lando Norris and George Russell all improved their times, demoting him to P6.

As usual in Free Practice, the Red Bull was only superior to Ferrari in Sector 1. From then on, the SF24’s great slow corner exit, traction and top speed proved that the RB20 is no longer the benchmark of the grid. Also, like Piastri, Verstappen had to be much more aggressive than Leclerc with a more manageable car and less pressure at the end of Sector 3.

Both Ferrari and McLaren already have a car with more strengths than the Red Bull, which needs external elements such as Nico HĂĽlkenberg’s slipstreaming at Imola to be at the top.

Read next – Monaco GP: Max Verstappen pole streak over as Charles Leclerc’s curse starts to break